The Talk I Couldn’t Take Credit For


In a Sunday School class once, we discussed Moses’ reported failure to acknowledge the hand of the Lord in providing water for the children of Israel. Our teacher, a former stake president, tried to explain to the class that we sometimes put our leaders in a “difficult” position when we give them undue praise for their performance. Many class members were puzzled: how could that be a problem? But I knew. So I shared with them a recent humbling experience.

I had been asked to speak at our stake Laurel standards night. As I began thinking and praying about this assignment, I felt inspiration come to me several times through the day, and in the still of the night, I began putting it all together. When I thought the talk was complete—all I needed for the time allotted me—I suddenly seemed to recall a great flood of information from talks and articles on the subject. Speaking quietly to the Lord, I said, “Heavenly Father, I believe you are giving me too much material, I have only thirty minutes to talk.”

Then came the clear instruction to my mind, “Write it all down, then read it aloud and time yourself.”

“That’s a good idea,” I thought. I did it, and to my great surprise, the talk came to thirty minutes. I had such a good feeling that I could have leaped around the room—I was prepared!

But the day before the Laurel standards night, I felt that I should prepare myself spiritually to give the message, and that evening, I began to fast. The next afternoon, I went to my room and began going over the talk. To my surprise, I just couldn’t put it together mentally. “What should I do?” I said in panic to the Lord. “I’m afraid I’ll be reading most of this, and if I do, everyone’s attention will be on me instead of the message you want me to give them.”

Then, very strongly, the thought came into my mind, “Leave it home.”

I resisted this. “I just can’t do that. You know what a terrible memory I have.”

Again came the thought, “Leave it home.”

Frightened, I pleaded, “Remember when I was a Primary president and stood up to give a talk and no words came? That was a terrible experience. Don’t let me go through that again.”

But again, I felt impressed by the Spirit to “leave it home,” so I relented saying, “If I do this, I will have to rely completely on thy help.” And again came the calm assurance of the Spirit that I should leave my talk at home.

That evening as I went out the door, I carried only a handkerchief. And as I glanced up at my bedroom window, I felt literally faint. Once in the chapel, waiting for the meeting to begin, I again tried putting the talk together. I just didn’t have it. I began to panic and then to pray, and immediately felt the comforting assurance that the Lord was there.

When the time came, I walked to the podium with complete assurance and gave all thirty minutes of that talk. I could hardly believe it. This was a marvelous spiritual experience.

When the meeting was over, several people came up to me and paid me glowing compliments. I literally couldn’t force myself to say thank you, and after I stammered through an awkward acknowledgement a few times, I looked around for an exit. I wanted to go home. I could not take credit for what had happened.

Looking back on the experience, the thought has come to me that perhaps the kindest thing any of us can say to someone whose words have impressed us is, “Thanks for that inspired message” or “I felt the Spirit of the Lord in your address tonight”—otherwise we lead them into temptation.

Carma N. Cutler is a homemaker, mother of six, and serves as second year Beehive adviser in Boise 23rd ward, Boise Idaho West Stake.